In vs. 29, Paul writes, “For God has graciously granted you the privilege of not only believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well.” The suffering Paul and many of his contemporaries did for Christ was real. Simply because of their faith, many were imprisoned, brutalized, or killed, often in the most tortuous way possible. We may wonder how Paul could possibly have viewed that as a privilege. And yet, he found joy in his faith as he saw the values of God’s kingdom being enacted, as these Christian communities formed around the shared purpose of living as Jesus lived and taught. He celebrated the fruit of faith that was being shown in these communities – unity, peace, equity, mutual accountability.
To what degree do you suffer for your faith? Are there places in which or people with whom it is harder for you to live according to the core value of Christian love? What does it look like to stand firm in your faith, while still showing gentleness and humility?
Today, offer a prayer of thanks for those who were willing to suffer for their faith so that you may practice yours freely and without fear.